August 7, 2022

Students at Imperial College London object to a sculpture "because of its 'obvious' interpretation as a person baring their erect penis."

The Guardian reports, in "Antony Gormley’s ‘phallic’ statue may damage our reputation, say students Imperial College/Union motion says students should have been consulted on work, due to ‘obvious’ erect penis interpretation."
[The students] note that while there is “nothing inherently wrong with phallic imagery in art”, the phallic interpretation’s preoccupation with the penis could be considered inappropriate for a grand public display. 
One of the key concerns for the union was the “exclusionary” phallic interpretation, when scientific research has been beset with issues around gender ratio and inclusion....
“College publicity regarding the statue chose an angle that avoided making the statue appear phallic,” the motion added. “This suggests that this interpretation, and backlash, was not unforeseen by some individuals within the college”....

The artist claims that he intended to represent a squatting man. But why would he choose squatting? That's suggestive of defecating. The title of the sculpture is "Alert." What's more alert — squatting or standing with an erect penis?

The artist says: "Balancing on the balls of the feet while squatting on its haunches and surveying the world around it the attitude of the sculpture is alive, alert and awake." Sorry. I'm not buying it. 

I found that via Instapundit, who writes

PHALLOPHOBIA RAISES ITS UGLY HEAD: College students upset at ‘phallic’ sculpture coming to campus.

It doesn’t look especially phallic to me, but what’s wrong with “an erect penis” anyway? Are you bigoted against people with penises? What about women with penises? Why do you hate women?

His link goes to The College Fix, which links to The Guardian, and The College Fix uses the angle that led the students to say that the college deliberately chose the angle that completely disguised the part that screams "semi-erect penis." That would be the second of the 6 images on the right side of this drawing:


I don't see how you can deny that — seen from every angle other than the one The College Fix put at the top of its page — it looks like a man with a huge penis sticking straight out. 

It reminds me of things like this and the 6th image here. It's very common in the history of art.

Perhaps Glenn only looked at the photo of the frontward-facing sculpture. And it's funny to say "but what’s wrong with 'an erect penis' anyway?," but please notice that the students themselves wrote that there's "nothing inherently wrong with phallic imagery in art." Their point was that a celebration of the phallic doesn't belong in a central place on the grounds of an institution that should have a message of inclusiveness.

The college's answer to the student is not that a sculpture of man with an erect penises sends the message they want. It's: Sir Antony Gormley is a famous artist and he gave us this sculpture. So he chose, and what did he chose? Oh, no, it's not a man with an erect penis. It's a squatting man. Who believes it looks like a squatting man? So much for the pursuit of truth. At least, call it what it is and defend it. The obsequiousness to the gift-giving famous artist is embarrassing.

95 comments:

Lurker21 said...

It looks like a cartoon caveman schlinging a Hunter Biden-sized schlong. I don't see the squatting. It's more like the legs were made deliberately short to emphasize the rest of the anatomy.

The obvious answer for the activist young is not to be scared, but to treat the sculpture as a joke and an excuse to laugh at the Patriarchy and its penile obsessions. Your victory is not tearing the work down. It's making it a beloved symbol of the past that you have overcome and made ridiculous.

Ice Nine said...

You pervs can go with phallus all you want - I see Jenga.

WK said...

A modern cubist version of an ancient Egyptian fertility statue. It is cultural appropriation at best.

RideSpaceMountain said...

One of the most striking things that I ever saw when I traveled to Nepal and Tibet was that outside the major cities, farmhouses, barns, and other structures have these gigantic paintings of erect penises all over them.

Some of the dicks even have smoky cloud-like ejaculate painted gushing from them. Others have wings, dicks-with-wings...I'm not joking.

I asked a local who spoke Chinese (I speak Chinese) what the significance of the painted pricks and why they were on everything. These cultures, especially Tibetan culture, still have a strong belief in the concept of the 'evil eye', and they believe that not only do penis paintings avert the eye and bad luck generally, but that phallic imagery and appreciation for penises brings good luck (very similar to lingum worship in India etc.). Women in Nepal especially believe this, and penises are not considered inappropriate for cultural display and enjoyment outside the cities (the major cities don't have penis grafitti more because of grafitti regulations than some subconscious hatred for cocks).

I actually wish Western culture had less stigma surrounding the schwanz. At one point it did have more penis appreciation, especially in Rome (the cult of priapus, etc.). Having a penis rocks. There should be more penis art and appreciation for penis-havers.

madAsHell said...

Hunter?? Is that you?

Michael K said...

Another Rorschach test for frustrated women.

stutefish said...

"Public art that is obviously going to be seen as dongs" seems like one of those problems that should be well-understood and easily avoided by now. So I gotta figure everyone involved knew exactly what they were doing, and the students are absolutely right to call them out on it.

policraticus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
h said...

So somewhere between kindergarten (where representations of sexual organs are an essential part of the curriculum) and university (where even an unrealistic representation of a male sexual organ is so disturbing that it must be hidden from sight) the education system has turned students into puritanical bluenoses.

The Vault Dweller said...

I figured the piece was done by Hunter Biden as a form of Art Therapy to deal with his body dysmorphia.

gilbar said...

It's Sir Antony Gormley is a famous artist and he gave us this sculpture.

let's play the What If game!!!
What IF, he gave us a sculpture of a Swastika??
and, the Bonus Round.. For fun!
What IF, he gave us a sculpture of a Hammer and Sickle?
What IF, the Hammer and Sickle had a list, by the millions; the people Killed By Communism ?

policraticus said...

Obvious phallus is obvious.

However, allow me to take a shot at a more genteel interpretation. My second look reading takes the figure to be a man (or, person) sitting on a doctor's bench, with their legs extended out straight in front of them, their arms folded in their lap, patiently waiting to be examined. Reading the "phallus" as legs makes the ratio between the torso of the figure and the extended part seem more natural.

Unless, we are really going for a modern Priapus.

Or, maybe it's both. Or, neither.

Lyle said...

He is sitting on a floating beam.

n.n said...

A proboscis, perhaps an obelisk. I cannot tell a lie. I'm surprised that hasn't been cancelled... and the many digits protruding from the Statue of Liberty.

A rock, a boulder, a mineral concretion with diversity underpinnings.

A plinth, a slab, a met slab, a fetus, a baby unwanted, aborted for social, redistributive, clinical, political, and fair weather causes.

A hole, a back hole, a black hole, the black whore progression h/t NAACP.

Ann Althouse said...

" It's more like the legs were made deliberately short to emphasize the rest of the anatomy."

Yes, and I think you will find a lot of sculpture from subSaharan Africa and from pre-Colombian central America with exactly that arrangement. Short legs and a big protruding penis. Often the legs are a little bent, so you might say squatting. I would hypothesize that the artist, like Picasso and many other western artists, used that kind of "primitive" art as a model.

Jupiter said...

You've all got it wrong. The bottom blocks are his toes. Then the short verticals are his feet. The pair of long blocks extending forward are his folded legs. He is, indeed, squatting on the balls of his feet.

Lousy art, but not dick art.

Saint Croix said...

ha ha ha ha

Saint Croix said...

One of the key concerns for the union was the “exclusionary” phallic interpretation, when scientific research has been beset with issues around gender ratio and inclusion....

Castrate the statue!

Puberty blockers! Quick! Before it gets bigger!

Aiieeeeeeeeee!

Saint Croix said...

The Washington Monument is up, up, up!

Very optimistic.

This is like a depressed middle-age man with sagging shoulders and a semi-erection. The missionary position wouldn't even work with this statute. He's stabbing the mattress.

Cowgirl would work though. If you topple this statue, make sure you topple him backwards. If you topple him forwards it's going to be awkward.

Anthony said...

"Lighten up, Francines."

Rabel said...

Boy on a see-saw as he touches down at the bottom of the stroke.

gadfly said...

The sculpture looks like a bunch of square and oblong shapes randomly attached to one another that could offend no one. What else do I care about?

Kate said...

The real shame is that the students feel more comfortable criticizing the statue's lack of inclusiveness than just saying it's ugly. They're afraid of accusations that they're not sophisticated enough to appreciate fine art.

Doug said...

Colleges and universities. Nuke 'em from space. Every last one of them.

Lilly, a dog said...

The Guardian's diagram made me laugh--the Red block is labeled "Penis (erect)." To the right of their diagram is a silhouette of a midget with a blurred out supercock. As the Cat Woman said before her demise, "Don't touch it! It's a very important work of art!"

William said...

As of 12:30 pm, the definitive Hunter Biden joke has not yet been made, but it will definitely come. Not a bad start, but not
definitive....."Imperial" College. Wouldn't some kind of phallic symbol be in keeping with the imperium of the college. Or maybe a stylized representation of India or Ireland beneath the squatting man would help dramatize the lessons to be learned at an Imperial College.

Achilles said...

h said...

So somewhere between kindergarten (where representations of sexual organs are an essential part of the curriculum) and university (where even an unrealistic representation of a male sexual organ is so disturbing that it must be hidden from sight) the education system has turned students into puritanical bluenoses.


I think a lot of people find this discontinuity interesting.

The leftists are going to have this artist and his art shamed off the campus.

Then they are going to force kinder gardeners to build in it a puzzle form in school.

J L Oliver said...

I see a person, gender unknown, on a seesaw.

Achilles said...

And they will have to say that it is transgender.

Godot said...


i did not see a phallus
i saw a big clit

but what if this figure is taking a shit?

consider this clit is really a turd
and the squatting began in pursuit of a bird

does a pause in the hunt for a common black turdus
render the issue of gender reducto absurdus?



Buckwheathikes said...

I mean, come on. This artist is obviously a victim.

Suffering from (checks notes) ... Biden Body Dysmorphia Syndrome.

John henry said...

Balancing on the balls of my feet, squatting and looking out at the world seems to describe my posture and attitude in younger days when I would be out in the woods and need to take a dump.

John LGBTQBNY Henry

Greg The Class Traitor said...

Perhaps Glenn only looked at the photo of the frontward-facing sculpture. And it's funny to say "but what’s wrong with 'an erect penis' anyway?," but please notice that the students themselves wrote that there's "nothing inherently wrong with phallic imagery in art."

I'm sure the students also wrote "I believe in free speech but...."
The fact that someone claims that X is true, does not require us to pretend that the person is acting in good faith.

Their point was that a celebration of the phallic doesn't belong in a central place on the grounds of an institution that should have a message of inclusiveness.

Really?

So absolutely nothing that "was a celebration of the" female, or black, or "colored", or gay, or "trans" can ever have "a central place on the grounds of an institution that should have a message of inclusiveness", because putting that there rejects all those who aren't there?

Or is it only "male" or "whiteness" that can't be there?

Sorry, but I'm not going to play along with the linguistic matricide. "Diversity" and "inclusiveness" that do not include Christian cis het white males is a lie and a fraud.

The desire to exclude any / all of Christian / cis / het / white / male is a pure display of religious, sexual, and "racial" bigotry and hatred

And the BEST you can say about this protest is that that is what they're trying to do

Freeman Hunt said...

"We'll see if people are imagining or if this actually looks like a man with an erect penis..."

click

"Bahahahaha!"

Certainly Alert.

Greg The Class Traitor said...

I don't see how you can deny that — seen from every angle other than the one The College Fix put at the top of its page — it looks like a man with a huge penis sticking straight out.

I deny that.

There are TWO, and ONLY two angles, where it looks like an erect penis: the two where you can only see the vertical plank, and not the horizontal one

The ones where you can see both planks it looks like a seat, not a dick

You need one plank or four (making a tube) for it to be "obviously phalic."

Of the six angles, one is entirely innocuous, two create a false image, and the other three are funny.

In the 60s the students would have loved it, and made those planks a common place to make out.

You all need to seriously lighten up

Kevin said...

How can they discuss the figure without knowing its pronouns?

This was a test and they failed.

Leland said...

Imperial College gave us the bad statistical model that led to Covid shutdowns. The sculpture represents how they schlonged the world before the professor got caught schlonging his mistress, but it was too late, just like the students objections.

Ralph L said...

Jupiter, if that's supposed to be his legs, shouldn't there be two? They don't call it a unit for nothing.

Ralph L said...

Who chose "coming to campus?" Isn't that the wrong preposition?

Steve Schainost said...

I saw an artist's rendition of the 'sculpture'. To me it looked like nothing more than a bunch of random steel boxes welded together. If there is anything anthropomorphic about it, it would be that the long box on top is giving the finger to the world.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

Truth be told, it doesn't really look much like a man squatting.

Carol said...

What Late said.

It's a hideous PoS.

Beasts of England said...

‘Certainly Alert.’

Nice.

RNB said...

Old lady: You arrest that young hooligan! He walks by in front of my house every morning whistling dirty songs!

n.n said...

Rock the Casbah

Sharif don't like it
Rockin' the Casbah
Rock the Casbah


Progenitor to Cancel culture.

n.n said...

I see a person, gender unknown, on a seesaw.

I match your fetus... baby on slab h/t Barack "burden" Obama, your back... black hole.. whore h/t NAACP, your plain pebble... boulder with diversity attributes, and raise it a penile construct on a seesaw, a literal knee-slapper.

This is ponderous, man. Real ponderous.

tim in vermont said...

It's 'bankwalker' day here at Althouse,

tim in vermont said...

If it's supposed to be his legs, it's out of proportion, which is why nobody but the spatial reasoning challenged sees it as his legs.

Narr said...

Is that a Gormley sculpture in your pocket or are you happy to see me?

I watched my wife do her yoga a few hours ago. She won't do it nekkid for me, but that's OK.

She realized I was there at last and asked if I liked what I saw.

"Yes," I said, "And I have the proof."

Yancey Ward said...

Does the sculpture even identify as male?

john mosby said...

Isn’t it a demonstration of cantilevering?

The weight of the vertical piece holds down one end of the horizontal piece, allowing it to project out freely.

Imperial is predominantly a STEM school, so a sculpture making use of such a basic principle of architecture and engineering is quite relevant.

JSM

Gusty Winds said...

Does it matter that the sculpture is unimpressive, ugly, and kind of sucks? Seems a better reason for removal. It's an eyesore.

Andrew said...

I wonder what Rod Dreher thinks. Can someone forward this to him?

JAORE said...

Change the name of the art as Trans-path-way and there will be awards showered on the artist.

Static Ping said...

I was planning on panning the students for being oversensitive, but, yeah, that's a dick. Also, it is ugly.

Richard Dolan said...

Just call it Lia — that should work.

Mike Petrik said...

Jupiter at 11:40 is right.

Lilly, a dog said...

Considering today's theme of big thick cocks, I think I'll skip your TikTok post tonight.

Rollo said...

If the man were lying down he'd be erect. Standing up aren't he and his member "extended" or something else rather than "erect"?

Rollo said...

If the man were lying down he'd be erect. Standing up aren't he and his member "extended" or something else rather than "erect"?

Marc in Eugene said...

So often these days the spectacles created by our debased and corrupt societies are almost literally unspeakable; this is at least not that. It couldn't be causing an uproar (if it really is and isn't of interest only to the constantly impassioned) at a finer exemplar of the progressivist cause. Perhaps they want Sir Antony to be shamed into donating a score or more of sculptures each representing one of the celebrated 'identities'; if so, he needs to resist, and tell them to eff off.

Karen of Texas said...

Is no one going to comment about the schlong being a bench?

(Fairly sure I put this comment on the Hunter's 9 inch schlong post. Got my schlong blogs crossed.)

Rollo said...

You missed today's other big story:

Alberto Nonino: Italian Athlete Loses Race After His Penis Kept Popping Out of His Shorts Because He Was Competing Without Underwear

Earnest Prole said...

it looks like a man with a huge penis sticking straight out

If you mean a huge penis sticking straight out from between a man's shins, sure.

loudogblog said...

I agree that they should call it what it is. The block illustration of a giant erect penis cannot be denied. That being said, why are adults so disturbed by the image? An erect penis is something that most people will have to deal with, at some point, in their lives. So it's important that the art community deal with it. I suspect that most of the criticism comes from people who are offended by hyper-masculinity.

rhhardin said...

Forget babes on astronomers' shirts, an erect penis motif would be good.

BarrySanders20 said...

That's not a huge penis sticking straight out. That fella is in Venice at Peggy Guggenheim's museum where I saw This Fella when I took the family there in 2019. Now that's fairly shocking phallic art, young college simpletons, and it's been pointing toward the Grand Canal (heh heh) since 1948 and so far nobody has died.

Robert Cook said...

It is just an arrangement of squares and rectangles. It is objectively not a figurative sculpture. If people see in it a man with a large erection, that's on them, that is their subjective interpretation. They are upset by what they imagine the sculpture depicts.

They should cancel themselves.

veni vidi vici said...

"Others have wings, dicks-with-wings...I'm not joking."

Fly away, Big Thing, on your ding-a-ling wings....

veni vidi vici said...

"Others have wings, dicks-with-wings...I'm not joking."

Fly away, Big Thing, on your ding-a-ling wings....

Narr said...

"Short legs and a big protruding penis."

I never sat (or squatted) for Sir Antony, so he must have worked from photos.

boatbuilder said...

So...Is Georgia O'Keefe OK? or not OK?

This stuff is so confusing.

(I will grant that O'Keefe's paintings are good and this thing is not so good. I'm just trying to understand the rules).

wildswan said...

I think it looks municipal - like a bus shelter seat or a pillar in the subway with a seat attached. And a sign above. Inspired by Lego. I have never seen a phallus that looked like indestructible concrete municipal seating. But maybe wokiness is doing things to young men. Or else maybe it's one of those trans operations you hear about; but gone wrong, as happens sometimes in plastic surgery. Or maybe it's a phallus/vagina combo which would be up-to-date and which would explain that line and fold effect melded with sticking out.

n.n said...

It's a geometric reconstruction of a soldier standing behind a high-capacity, assault gatling gun.

Paul said...

Well would you want a squatting pussy?

Who cares what these 'artist' put out.. most of it is junk.

Do you see how many puns I put in that one?

Quaestor said...

Looks more like a steeplejack sitting on a girder.

n.n said...

It's an abstract depiction of a girl climbing along a branch to retrieve a frightened kitten just outside the frame of the artist's portrayal. A work of art that captures female empowerment.

PB said...

There are a lot of college students who shouldn't be in college and there is a lot of "art" that should go in the trash, not on display.

n.n said...

it looks like a man with a huge penis sticking straight out

A profile of a man resting on his hunches, titillated, stimulated by a beautiful, likely naked... nude woman, a model of the opposite sex, the fairer sex, positioned in front of him.

FullMoon said...

The sculptor is laughing all the way to the bank.

"But this is not the first time his work has courted controversy: last year, his sculptures in the seaside town of Aldeburgh, entitled Quartet (Sleeping), were found to violate local planning laws and were likened by local residents to “sex toys”."

Jupiter said...

Can we at least agree that those who find something offensive in the sculpture believe it represents a man baring his erect penis, not a "person baring their erect penis"?

Greg The Class Traitor said...

Blogger Karen of Texas said...
Is no one going to comment about the schlong being a bench?

Well, I wrote this at 1:37 PM:

In the 60s the students would have loved it, and made those planks a common place to make out.

You all need to seriously lighten up

CStanley said...

“Is that a monolith in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?”

Bunkypotatohead said...

Paint it black and the students won't have the nerve to complain.

Marcus Bressler said...

I bet none of the complaining students - female OR _male_ have ever even SEEN an erect penis ... so how would they know?

Marcus
THEOLDMAN

iowan2 said...

Man sees a psychiatrist for the first visit. The Dr says firs he needs to ask him a few questions.
The Dr. draws a circle on a blank piece of paper, asks what the patients sees. He resounds, a naked woman. Dr draws an X, Patient says naked man. Dr. draws a Circle with an X in the circle, he says a man and woman making love.
The Dr says he can help, but the patient has to understand he is obsessed with Sex.

The paient says, he's no the one with the problem, the Dr keeps drawing dirty pictures.

But like another commenter up thread, We have to teach the K-3 about masturbation and anal sex, how can college kids go all church lady about a random stack of Legos?

Tina Trent said...

Andrew: Rod Dreher is too busy repudiating everything he believes in again for attention and cancelling people on the right who don't grovel at his ever-changing insights.

I see that in the statue too. Modern art is such fraudulent crap.

Remember when American Conservative magazine covered something other than bellybutton gazing?

Biotrekker said...

The statue is hideous

HoodlumDoodlum said...

What's not inclusive about celebrating the erect penis?

Andrew said...

@Tina Trent,
Agreed. He has really become peculiar and unstable. His divorce is sending him over the edge. (I'm glad I didn't have a blog or Twitter account during my divorce.) I still can't figure out why he's travelling across Europe when he has children at home, including a high school age daughter. I can't imagine flying around and visiting monasteries while neglecting your kids during/after a divorce.

Paddy O said...

Funny, I read this yesterday, but only this morning as I glanced at the title did the obvious stand out.

Students at Imperial College? The name of the college is significantly more problematic than a questionably interpreted statue. Imperials do like to impose their desires on all the other people. Such colonizing impulses don't die, they just change outfits.

Paddy O said...

"I still can't figure out why he's travelling across Europe when he has children at home, including a high school age daughter."

He's moved into his Augustinian phase.

Free Manure While You Wait! said...

Could be spermatocele. It's shocking these students would be so insensitive to the tragedies befalling men.

Narr said...

"I still can't figure out why he's travelling across Europe when . . . ."

I still can't figure out why anyone cares what he does.

Maybe elite-approved thoughtful conservative Christians can be irresponsible assholes?

Brian McKim and/or Traci Skene said...

"Their point was that a celebration of the phallic doesn't belong in a central place on the grounds of an institution..."

I don't see celebration. I see a giant, slump-shouldered man(?) glumly contemplating his poor, much-reviled penis.

Rhorshach smiles.